Sunday, 25 November 2012

Six Random Things to Do While in Nairobi

You love the outdoors and you live in Nairobi or maybe you are just visiting. Here is a list of six random things you may want to do next year, how to get them done (process) and what you can expect out of your experience (payoff):

1). KCB Safari Rally

Most of us remember the Safari Rally with fondness, what with greats such as Joginder Singh, Shekhar Mehta and Patrick Njiru. Until it was removed from the world motor sports calendar, a few years ago, it was one of the toughest rallies in the world. Thankfully, that was not the end of it, and we have KCB to thank for it.
 

KCB Guru Nanak Rally - Keeping alive the memory of the Safari Rally


 
Process: The Safari Rally has loyal fans. Some of them watch the rally because  they see themselves in the incredible racing cars while others just love the thrill of having the pedal on the metal. One thing they all share though, is their incredible love for the sport. Such is their devotion to the rally, they will follow it to any part of the country it is staged, however remote.

To enjoy this fine display of showmanship, all you need to do is to drive down to the location where the event is being staged. The cost will, to a great extent, be pegged on your cost of transportation. Add the cost of food and drinks and there you are- you have the total cost.

Free tip: Prior to the rally, stock up your food and drinks. Fill your fuel tank. You don't want to run out of fuel. Dress appropriately, as you would dress out in the bush. After all, you will be out in the bush! You may want to carry a fold-away chair for comfort.

Chose a good spectator stage to set camp, preferably somewhere where you can see the racing machines at their meanest. Go with a fun crowd and if you are drinking, get someone who doesn't drink to drive you back. Have fun and take lots of pictures!

Payoff: For those of us who love speed and racing, this is your kind of event. It offers pure entertainment. One other thing that the rally offers is the opportunity to bond in a free and unguarded environment. You can therefore bond and hang out freely with your friends. Because it does not require any physical exertion, this is an event where you can take with you, your whole family. It will certainly be a fun-filled day.

2). Hiking at Longonot

Not far from Nairobi, there are a number of hills  and small mountains that are ideal for hiking. About 22 Kilometres southwest of Nairobi, are the Ngong Hills. To the northwest, 60 Kilometres away, you find Mt. Longonot while to the northeast, 85 Kilometres away, you will find Ol Donyo Sabuk. Another favourite with hikers is Mt. Suswa

 Hiking at Ngong Hills - Notice the armed guard to the left
Process: If you have a personal car, you can drive down to any of this places. However, for your own personal security, once you get to the base of the hill, you may be required to hire a Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) ranger, who will accompany you up the trail. This is because some of these places are home to herds of buffaloes. A number of tour operators also organise regular weekend excursions to this places.

How deep you dig into your pocket would depend, to a great degree, on the tour operator you engage for the hike as well as the size of the group you are going with. However, in my own estimate, the cost would be anything between Kshs. 2,700/- and Kshs. 5,500/-

Free tip: Hiking is much more fun when you do it in large numbers. As they say, the more the merrier. With big numbers, despite your varied levels of physical fitness, you are assured that you will at least have someone to match your pace and sometimes nudge you on as you labour up the steep trail.

As you plan for your day of hiking, you may also want to consider your physical fitness. Some locations are tougher than others. The Ol Donyo Sabuk trail for instance is tough. The one at Ngong Hills is fairer in comparison while Mt. Longonot is somewhere in between. Longonot also has the added advantage of having a magnificent view from the rim of the crater.

Payoff: Hiking is a test of physical fitness. Sometimes, walking up a steep trail, with your muscles aching, it is easy to question your wisdom in pursuing such a physically challenging undertaking. Sometimes, you may be tempted to give up before you have reached the end. Indeed, many have fallen by the wayside in their quest to reach the top. However, the beauty of it is when you return to the base knowing: 'I did it!'


3). Party In The Wild (PITW)

Party In The Wild (PITW) is a unique party experience. As the name suggests, it combines travel, partying and camping in the wild. 
 
Party In The Wild II (PITWII)

Process: Being a somewhat new event, you may not hear so much about it. For the last edition, the organisers did a great job getting the word  out and there was even  mention on radio. If you love the party scene and would like to stay posted on the  next event, visit and like the Green Lantern Entertainment Page on Facebook.

To be a part of this exclusive party, all you need to do is to pay up and show up. The cost ranges from anything between Kshs. 5,000/- (approx. USD 67)and Kshs. 12,000/- (approx USD 160) depending on the duration of the party and the location where it is hosted.

Free tip: If you don't like camping or partying, this is not your kind of event.  On the other hand, if you do, you may want to stock up your liquor reserves and carry warm clothing. Carry your swimming trunks and your sense of humour. It helps if you have great company and you will enjoy this if you are a great spot!

Payoff:  When was the last time you watched the sun rise to the sound of chirping birds, walked down to the riverbank and soaked your feet in the river? When was the last time you watched the sun set out in the wild, felt the wind blow on your skin as you basked in nature's full splendour, one that it offers so freely, but oh so generously?

4). Safaricom Sevens

Every year, some of the world's best rugby talent comes down to Nairobi to be a part of what has been referred to as, 'Africa's premier sevens rugby tournament.' The event brings  together  great teams such as the Emerging Boks from South Africa and Samoa. It is also a show case of our very own  Kenyan team, playing at home and cheered on by thousands of fans.
 
Process: If you haven't heard about Sevens, you are certainly not living in this part of the world. In fact, in our world, it is THE sports event to attend! One that offers lots of entertainment, both on the pitch and off it.

To be a part of this great annual event, all you need to do is to buy your ticket and show up. The cost is anything between Kshs. 500/- for a regular ticket to Kshs. 4,000/- for a VIP Seasons' ticket.  

Free tip: This is a high energy event so dress light. More importantly however, dress right! I can't think of anywhere else, where it is more appropriate to don your dress of green, red, black and white. Carry with you your vocal chords and your crazy friends. You will need them both! The energy at the public terrace is off the hook. You may want to seat there and not at the 'VIP' area.
 

Payoff: Sevens is not just a game, it is just not a tournament. Here is where we show how proud we are as a people. Here is where together, we show love for our own. Here is where together, in song and dance, we cheer our own, nudging them on as they make a try or a perfect conversion.  Simply put, Sevens is a show of pride, a display of patriotism! What more can we ask for?

5). The Standard Chartered Nairobi Marathon

The Stanchat Nairobi Marathon is a unique annual event. It is is the only Kenyan Marathon featured in the International Association of AthletIcs Federations (IAAF). All proceeds from this event go towards Seeing is Believing, an initiative aimed at reducing preventable blindness amongst children.

Process: You can enter the Marathon either as an individual, group or as an organisation. With six race categories, it offers an opportunity to people of all ages with varied levels of physical fitness and ability, to test your fitness - or lack of it - while contributing to a worthy cause.

To join the Stanchat Marathon, all you need to do is to fill the entry form and pay the entry fee of Kshs. 1000/- (approx USD 13). Registration can be done online or at specific locations.

Free tip: Based on you level of fitness, chose a distance that you would be comfortable running. If you want to test your limit, you may want to select a category that is reasonably challenging. Settle for a training program and start training early. You need to eat well. In this regard, follow an appropriate nutrition guide. On the day of the marathon, ensure you are comfortable. Most of all, enjoy!

Payoff: Because the marathon takes place towards the end of the year, in October, training for the marathon offers an opportunity to improve your physical fitness. More importantly, it offers you an opportunity to contribute to a worthy cause by giving sight to  deserving children.

6). Cycling Safari

A cycling Safari is a unique activity. It combines both physical fitness and game viewing. Unlike viewing game from the comfort of your car, a cycling safari offers a more intimate experience with nature. It is one of those unique activities that you don't do every other time, something that would probably put in the same category as bungee jumping or scuba diving.
 
 

Process: This is not a subject that I am well acquainted with. In my knowledge though, there are a number of tour agents that offer cycling safaris. The one I would vouch for, since I have experienced what he has to offer, is Chris Angel of Activity Safaris. He has invested heavily in cycling. He organises safaris across remote parts of the country, including safaris across Masai Mara and Bogoria.

A cycling Safari is a rather expensive affair. First, you have to cater for your own transportation to the starting point. In addition, unless you have your own mountain bike, it would cost you about Kshs. 5,000/- to hire one for a day. When you factor in the cost of registration and accommodation in a  lodge, you are talking about a cost that is upwards of Kshs. 30,000/- for a weekend.

Free tip: If you want to take a cycling Safari, and enjoy it to the maximum, you are better off combining it with your regular vacation, making this an item in your to-do-list, rather than the main reason for travelling. There are also a number of properties such as Naro Moru River Lodge (at the base of Mt. Kenya) and others at the Kenyan Coast, that offer cheaper cycling alternatives. They offer you a bicycle for hire at a much lower cost. Nonetheless, this option does not offer the thrill that the wilderness offers. You may want to try this and share your feedback.

Payoff:  Though pricey, a cycling safari is as close as it gets to real adventure. It is fun and interesting and another reason to experience some of the great treasures we have in our country, in a  unique kind of way. It makes for a great photo opportunity and an experience that one is able to share with fondness, a long time afterwards.

Please do share your 2013 to-do list and I would be happy to sample what's in your list and share it.

The views expressed in this article are the author's views and should not be interpreted as endorsement of any individual or organisation .

 
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